OnePlus Buds true wireless headphones review – Budget headset without ANC
OnePlus fans have been waiting for this, and now the time has come: There's finally a true wireless headset from the Chinese manufacturer. The OnePlus Buds are not too expensive, promise decent battery life, and they come with quite large audio drivers that should provide a good bass.
The manufacturer has set a price of 89 Euros (~$104) for the in-ear headset, which is in the middle range between the super-cheap headsets from QCY or Xiaomi and the more-expensive alternatives such as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 (available on Amazon for 291 Euros (~$341)) or the Apple AirPods Pro (available on Amazon for around 215 Euros (~$252)).
The closest in terms of price are the Huawei FreeBuds 3 (available on Amazon for about 115 Euros (~$135)), the Galaxy Buds+ from Samsung (available on Amazon for just under 112 Euros (~$131)), and the Honor Magic Earbuds (can be found on Amazon for less than 100 Euros (~$117)).
It's evident that the market is already quite saturated; so the question arises: Can OnePlus convince with its late true wireless opening night?
|Speakers||13.4 mm drivers, dynamic, 20 - 20,000 Hz|
|Audio codecs||Not specified|
|Battery capacity (earbuds)||35 mAh|
|Battery capacity (charging case)||430 mAh|
|Charging connection||USB Type-C|
|Wireless charging||Not supported|
|Weight (per earbud)||4.7 g|
|Weight (charging case)||37 g|
|Microphones||3 microphones per earbud, no ANC|
|In the box||Headphones, charging case, charging cable, documentation|
|Price (MSRP)||89 Euros (~$104)|
Case and ergonomics - TWS headphones with IPX4 certification
The OnePlus Buds are available in three colors: White, dark gray, and north blue, with the latter matching the blue marble color of the OnePlus Nord smartphone. While the charging case is made of matte plastic, the buds themselves have a high-gloss finish. There are metal surfaces with a concentric circle design on the external sides that are reminiscent of earlier OnePlus headsets.
The buds have a clean finish and are stable. Small design details such as the flattened strip that stems from the border of the touch buttons on the back of the Buds or the charging case's shiny metal hinge also add value to the true wireless headset's design.
The OnePlus Buds are only available in one size; their shape allows them to fit into the ear and the external ear canal. However, if they are shoved in a slightly faster way, it will be enough to make the OnePlus Buds fall out of the ears. Although the Buds seem stable enough to survive a fall without damage, they can be lost very easily. You should also try out how well the Buds fit in your ears before buying.
OnePlus' first true wireless headset features an IPX4 protection against splashes, so rain won't have an effect on the small headphones.
Connectivity and handling - No wireless charging
On the technical aspect, the OnePlus Buds offer an average configuration for true wireless headsets that is according to their price range. As a result, there's no active noise cancellation or transparent hearing where the sound of the external microphones is transmitted to the ears to ensure more safety in street traffic, for example.
As you would expect from other true wireless headsets, the outside is touch-sensitive and currently reacts to double-tapping by skipping to the next track as well as answering or ending a call, respectively. A long press changes the connected device or rejects an incoming call. With the next OTA update, users should be able to assign the double-tap function more individually.
The Buds also include a wear-detection feature that automatically stops music or movie playback when the Buds are removed from the ear. You can automatically resume playback by putting the OnePlus Buds on again within three minutes; you'll need to resume manually if you go over this period.
There is currently no companion app to control the settings; instead, the Bluetooth settings of the Android OS are used to check the battery level and to make the most important adjustments.
Wireless charging is not supported by the OnePlus Buds, and fast charging isn't possible even with OnePlus' own chargers.
Call quality and noise canceling - Voices sound distorted
When making a phone call, the OnePlus Buds can reproduce the voice of the person on the other end very loudly. Voices are also easy to understand but sound slightly distorted. Our voice, on the other hand, sounds a bit distant to the other person in the call and is transmitted with significant distortion. We can be understood but can't speak too softly.
There's no active noise cancellation, so that the headphones can't generate any anti-noise to eliminate outside noise. Instead, algorithms run in the OnePlus Buds that can differentiate between voices and sounds and then remove the outside noise. OnePlus calls this technology Environmental Noise Canceling. It actually works with noises that aren't too loud and on phone calls; when playing music or movies, external noises just get a little quieter, but they're still audible.
Sound - Powerful bass
At 13.4 mm, the drivers of the OnePlus buds are quite large, which can provide better bass on one hand, but on the other hand, it also makes the drivers slower.
As a matter of fact, basses are reproduced well, and the sound is generally quite balanced when playing music. The OnePlus Buds aren't overtaxed with classical music; they reproduce individual instruments in detail and hardly misrepresent any sound. Speech is reproduced understandably, but you always have the feeling of it being distorted.
Even with pop music, the distortion of voices is noticeable in the singing, while basses are reproduced well. With film sound, noises feel very present and powerful, but voices aren't very appealing here either.
Battery life - A little under 5 hours of music is realistic
The manufacturer promises up to 7 hours of battery life for the OnePlus Buds when playing music. When fully charged, the charging case can supply the Buds with energy for up to 23 hours of battery life according to the manufacturer; consequently, it provides a total of about three additional charges.
With a fixed sound level of 65 dB(A), we manage just under 4:32 h during music playback. That is a decent value, but the OnePlus Buds will probably have to take a break in the charging case every now and then during longer trips.
The manufacturer promises that 10 minutes in the charging case is supposed to give the Buds about 100 minutes of music playback. In about 80 minutes, the charging case and Buds are fully charged. After 10 minutes, however, about 30% of the charge is already reached, so that the charging case and the Buds should last for about 10 hours together.
|Battery runtime (@ 65 dB)||4 h 32 m|
Verdict - Not wonderful in terms of features but still offer a strong bass
If you're into powerful basses, the OnePlus Buds with their large audio drivers are the right choice. The sound is also convincing when playing instrumental music and films. At the same time, you shouldn't have too high expectations regarding voice reproduction or call quality.
You'll painfully miss the active noise canceling on flights, but you probably can't expect this feature in the price range of the OnePlus Buds. You also have to do without wireless charging, and even the quick-charging functionality that was rumored in advance is missing too.
The OnePlus Buds are a solid true wireless headset for bass lovers.
The headphones look good and are solidly manufactured; they're splash-proof and offer decent battery life on par with other true wireless headsets. The charging case is also small enough to not be bothersome in your pocket.
Potential buyers should try out whether the OnePlus Buds fit securely in their ears; headsets with differently sized rubber ear tips are probably a bit more flexible here. Headsets that are fastened behind the ear with a clip also provide more security.
You can get better battery life for the headphones with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus (available on Amazon for under 120 Euros (~$141)), which have a similar price for the time being; they also offer wireless charging but lack an IP certification in return. If you expect active noise canceling in this price range, you have few alternatives, but you can take a look at the Honor Magic Earbuds (available on Amazon for under 100 Euros (~$117).
In general, OnePlus offers a not-too-expensive addition to the highly competitive true wireless market, which is especially well-suited for instrumental music, but it isn't really convincing when it comes to voice quality and singing.